City looks to adopt Zipcar

A week after the University rolled out its Zipcar program, the city of New Haven is trying to bring the car-sharing service to downtown apartment dwellers.

The University’s service, which allows Elis to rent cars on an hourly basis from Zipcar, Inc., has exceeded expectations for sign-ups in its first week, the program’s director said. 105 students and 48 faculty and staff members have already signed up for the service, said Holly Parker, Yale’s director of sustainable transportation systems.

This is one of five Zipcars currently stationed around the Yale campus. The city of New Haven hopes to join the program and offer the Zipcar service to all of its downtown constituents.
Charles Francis
This is one of five Zipcars currently stationed around the Yale campus. The city of New Haven hopes to join the program and offer the Zipcar service to all of its downtown constituents.

With Zipcar, students pay an annual membership charge of $35 and then are providedwith a company-issued card that unlocks and operates the Zipcar vehicles. Gas, insurance and maintenance costs are included in the annual membership fee, and the company accepts members as young as 18 years of age.

The allure of the service, Parker says, is that students will no longer need to bring a car to campus just so they can make infrequent trips out of New Haven to run errands or get away for the weekend. In turn, the University would benefit because fewer cars on campus would ease Yale’s parking crunch.

In downtown New Haven, the same allure applies. The city says it hopes apartment dwellers will be able to make use of a car sharing service in lieu of storing one or two cars of their own in nearby garages. It could be particularly appropriate for future residents of the 31-story Shartenberg Tower, for instance, which is to be built on the corner of Chapel and State streets.

The city will soon prepare a request for proposals for the service, “with particular attention to downtown residential buildings,” said Michael Piscitelli, head of the New Haven Department of Transportation, Traffic & Parking.

Meanwhile, at Yale, five of the six cars to be available 24 hours a day as part of the Zipcar service have now been deployed around campus, Parker said. Two are located at the School of Medicine campus at the corner of College St. and Congress Ave.; one is located by Ingalls Rink; another is at 221 Whitney Ave.; and another is at Temple and Elm streets.

A sixth car, which is to arrive within a week, will be positioned behind Payne Whitney Gymnasium, Parker said.

The service was officially launched last Friday, when a campus-wide e-mail was sent promoting the program.

Zipcar, the world’s largest car sharing service, launched seven years ago and first entered the college market in 2001 at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The service now has more than 120,000 members and a fleet of 3,500 vehicles in cities across the country, including New York, Washington and Chicago.

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